Paraeducator and public school parent Josephine Zhao is running for election to the San Francisco school board. (Courtesy photo)

Harvey Milk Club pressures backers of school board candidate over transphobic remarks

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club on Wednesday moved to urge candidates running for office to rescind their endorsements of school board hopeful Josephine Zhao.

The club released its endorsements for the November election along with a list of motions seeking to put pressure on candidates including California Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu.

Zhao came under fire by the club for allegedly transphobic remarks she made four years ago after she secured endorsements by Mayor London Breed and Sen. Scott Wiener earlier this month. The public school mom and school district employee in 2013 advocated against gender-neutral bathrooms in San Francisco schools, and told Chinese media that the policy would lead to rape on campuses.

Last week, Zhao apologized for the remarks in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner and contended that she has changed her position on the policy. Still, the club voted on Tuesday to reschedule a vote to consider rescinding its previous endorsement of Ma, who is running for State Treasurer, due to her “endorsement of Josephine Zhao for school board.”

SEE RELATED: School board candidate under fire for past transphobic statements

The club also voted to urge all members of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee to oppose Chu — who has also endorsed Zhao — in her run for re-election as Assessor-Recorder. The DCCC was expected to finalize its endorsements with a vote Wednesday night.

Mia Satya, one of two transgender candidates running for a seat on the school board, has previously received the club’s endorsement. On Tuesday, the club voted to press Breed to appoint a transgender candidate to the soon-to-be-vacant seat of school board president Hydra Mendoza-McDonell, a mayoral appointee.

Breed told the San Francisco Examiner last week that she stands by her endorsement of Zhao, whom she called “a good person.” Likewise, Wiener has said he will continue to back Zhao.

But other local leaders and candidates have pulled their endorsements, including Supervisor Catherine Stefani and supervisor candidate Christine Johnson.

On Wednesday, Zhao dispelled rumors that she had put her campaign on hold.

“I am running my campaign full speed,” she said.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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